FG, stakeholders brainstorm on action plan for implementation of RIO+20 agenda

Last week, the Federal Government presented Nigeria’s programme of activities for the successful implementation of the recommendations arising from the RIO+20 Summit, for stakeholders’ review. OLUFEMI ADEOSUN, who attended the two-day event, examines experts’ opinion on the sustainable development action plan document.

One of the criticisms that has always trailed Nigeria’s participation in international negotiations in the area of the environments, has been the seeming failure of successive governments in the country to domesticate the hugely beneficial agreements reached during the global talks. According to environment experts, while the country spends millions of tax payers’ fund to sponsor government delegations to international conferences, some of the recommendations are often tucked under the rafter due to lack of political will to implement them. For instance, why they allege that preparation for the country’s participation in the forthcoming COP 19 is still shrouded in secrecy barely two months to the global climate change event, the country is yet to fulfill some of its previous commitments.

However, in a move signaling a complete breakaway from the past, barely few months after the country’s successful participation in the Rio+20 Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June 2012, the present administration has commenced a programme of activities that Nigeria can pursue and use to implement some of the recommendations agreed to during the UN conference.  of the thematic areas the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), which is also known as Rio+20 is extracting commitments from the 192 member states are” poverty eradication, food security and nutrition and sustainable development, water and sanitation, promotion of sustainable modern energy services, sustainable tourism and sustainable transportation system.

Others include, sustainable cities and human settlements, health and population, promotion of full and productive employment, decent work for all, and social protection, disaster risk reduction, climate change, biodiversity, desertification, land degradation and drought, chemicals and waste sustainable consumption and production, mining, education, and gender equality and women’s empowerment was with a view to coming up with strategies which would enable the country address these core areas that the Federal Government last week in Abuja organised a two-day workshop on the “Adoption of the Framework of Action Plan for the Implementation of the Rio+20 Summit Outcomes”.

The plan of action, which was put together by a sixman committee of experts and consultants, was at the instance of the Federal Ministry of Environment and the United Nations Development Programme. Speaking during the review of the draft document, the Minister of Environment, Mrs. Hadiza Mailafia, stressed the commitment of government to the implementation of the Rio-+20 agreements. Giving a background to the production of the document, Mailafia who was represented at the workshop by the Director of Human Resources, Mr. Gambo Jakada, said, “The Federal Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with the UNDP, organised a step-down workshop for MDAs, private sector stakeholders and other participants at the Rio+20 Summit to deliberate on the outcomes and come up with implementation strategies that would be presented to the government.

In line with the summit’s unanimous position that poverty was the greatest global challenge facing the world today, she emphasized that the present administration was committed to evolving strategies which would enable it address poverty scourge in a sustainable manner.

In his own remarks, the Head of the Committee that drafted the document, Prof. Emmanuel Oladipo, said that even though it was commendable that the Federal Government commenced in earnest the process of coming up with a document that would address some of the identified issues arising from the Rio summit, integrating them into the country’s national development plans, could still pose a serious challenge.

He said, “The good thing about this government action is that this is the first time Nigeria agrees to certain things at the global level and immediately tries to translate them into local issue, and develop an action plan toward ensuring that those issues are carried along and developed.

“With the euphoria, support and interest that the government has demonstrated, I expect it will be followed by substantive support both political and financial that further show the commitment of government into ensuring that sustainable development is properly carried along in our developmental processes

.” He stated that his expectation was that the document would be presented to the Federal Executive Council for adoption after a thorough review by the relevant stakeholders, adding that there was the need to mainstream the activities stated in the document into the government development plans rather than treating them as isolated items.

”The next step will be, in my own view, for the minister of environment and her partnering MDAs to look at this document properly and develop a memo that can make it acceptable to the FEC follow ing which there should be a task force to ensure that this action plan is properly implemented.

“This involves situating the action plan within our national development plans. It is not that we should be doing something new entirely, or something not related to what we have been doing. If it is going to be situated within the transformation agenda, then let it be. But we need a situation in which these issues that are being raised here are properly integrated into our national development plans, he said.

Oladipo however warned that it would be very difficult for the country to fulfill the first item on the Rio+20 agenda, which is poverty eradication, if it persisted in its profilgate style of sharing oil weaith. According to him, the country would need to re-invest the money accrued from the oil to create job and finance real sector of the economy. He warned, “Nigeria is still too much into rent economy. We sell oil and spend the money. It is time for Nigeria to start thinking about, and making it practical, the reinvestment of a lot of these resources into the productive sectors, including agriculture and manufacturing that can grow and expand the economy so that it can now generate more jobs.

A situation in which some people will come to Abuja, collect monthly allocation, share it at the state level, share it at the local government level, will not help the country’s goal of eradicating poverty as stipulated in the RIO+20 agenda. In a similar vein, the National President Nigerian environmental Society, Mr. Olu Wai-Ogosu, stated that the country’s bane in the Environment sector was not dearth of policies and regulations, but lack of political will on the part of government to enforce them. Stating the position of NES on this, he said,” We have some regulatory bodies lacking in needed capacity, lacking in materials and equipment to translate policies to real life situation. We also observed the trend of recycling position papers, recycling talks. “You can attend five environmental workshops and you see same faces, so information is being limited to a particular sector.

That is why we suggested that it is supposed to be a synergy from the federal, state and local government, so that information can flow down. Local government is where you feel most the negative effects of environmental despoliations. “If you talk of poverty, you find it is there; if you talk of population, it is there, if you talk about arbitrary distortion of the environment, you find it there. Unless we develop that systematic way of moving decision through the top to bottom, our developmental efforts on environment will not achieve its desired goal.”

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